Gary Heatly rounds-up the Eastern Premier Division action for 2021…
It all began in early May and there have been plenty of twists and turns since then, but in the end Heriot’s were just too strong for the competition and won the Eastern Premier Division title for 2021.
The Goldenacre men suffered a home defeat to RH Corstorphine on the opening day, but never looked back after that and won their next 13 completed games in the competition.
They lifted the Scottish Cup on August 22, but did not have too long to celebrate because they had a title to win six days later. They managed to do that by defeating Arbroath at home and then finished things in style last weekend with a strong run chase to win away at Gen!us Grange.
Heriot’s playing group features a crop of Scotland caps in the shape of captain Mark Watt, Matthew Cross, Gavin Main and Adrian Neill and players like Peter Ross, Michael Shean, Hayes van der Berg, Ryan Brown, Keith Morton, Joe Kinghorn-Gray and Elliot Ruthven have been there and done it before.
However, this term others like Lloyd Brown, Durness Mackay-Champion and youngster Ewan Hutchinson have also stepped up to the mark and Scotland all-rounder Mark Watt said: “I am really pleased with how the guys came together as a group and performed this season.
“As a captain I could not have asked for more because everyone gave their all and played good cricket when we had to.
“For me personally it was nice to have so many different options with the bat and the ball that we could turn to in different matches as the situation dictated and everyone did their bit.
“I think back to a game like the one at Meigle when we were struggling batting first [they were 94-7 back in July], but Gav Main stepped up with a brilliant 50 and then we went on to win the game.
“That is the kind of team spirit that got us over the line and it is great to part of an environment where everyone plays for each other.”
Director of cricket Peter Ross said: “To win the league and Cup double is a great achievement for the club.
“We had to dig in at times and I think what has separated us from other teams this year has been the number of guys who have stepped up and delivered 50s or crucial wickets at key times, it hasn’t just been down to one or two guys.
“Yes, someone like Matthew Cross has scored a lot of runs, but everyone else has backed him up and when the squad depth has been tested guys have answered the call and done well.”
Edinburgh rivals Carlton pushed Heriot’s all the way and lost just two league games all term. For Ali Evans’ men it was also exciting to see Shujaa Khan breaking through with the bat and Tom Simpson continuing to improve.
Grange were third and it is brilliant to see young players like Charlie Peet, Jamie Cairns, Jack Jarvis and Ben Davidson impressing with the top team at Portgower Place.
Ion8 Forfarshire, the champions in 2019, finished fourth and showed on their day that they are a match for anyone in the division still while Watsonians were fifth and will look to build on that and a Scottish Cup final spot in 2022.
Arbroath were sixth and the emergence of young players like Daniel Salmond and Lee Patterson was encouraging to see while RHC got off to a decent start, but faded away a bit to end up in seventh spot.
Stewart’s Melville battled hard to win their last two matches to survive, Steven Parker’s men ending up in eighth place and it was good to see youngsters like Jo Newman and Harry Armstrong getting first team opportunities this summer.
Stoneywood Dyce had some good wins at home, but struggled at times on the road to finish in ninth while Meigle finished 10th and will be relegated.
The Perthshire side were certainly a great addition to the league after promotion in 2019 and Charles Clark and his men fought right to the end.
Who replaces them in the top flight in 2022 will be decided this coming Saturday when Strathmore & Perthshire champions Falkland play ESCA champions Gala at Freuchie in a promotion play-off match.
Heriot’s are pictured celebrating their league triumph by Graham Gaw
Thanks to all captains, players, scorers and club members who have helped with our Eastern Premier Division coverage in 2021